A host of conservative legislative and fiscal measures supported and signed by Gov. Phil Bryant are set to take effect July 1. Major legislation includes a measure to protect religions liberty and add "In God We Trust" to the state seal, "Right on Crime" criminal justice reforms, a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks, a pay raise for public school teachers, and several anti-union bills. The state fiscal year also begins July 1; the state budget will include filling the "Rainy Day Fund" savings account.
"We worked hard to ensure the laws Mississippi passed embodied strong, conservative priorities," Gov. Phil Bryant said. "I am also proud that we passed a budget that protects the state's financial stability by fully funding our savings account and ending the practice of paying for recurring expenses with one-time revenue sources."
Major legislation and funding priorities that will take effect tomorrow include:
* Protecting religious freedom (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) and adding the national motto "In God We Trust" to the Mississippi state seal (Senate Bill 2681).
* Protecting gun owner rights (House Bill 314) and providing a sales tax holiday for sportsmen and sportswomen (Senate Bill 2425).
* Banning most abortions at 20 weeks (House Bill 1400).
* Comprehensive "Right on Crime" criminal justice reforms (House Bill 585) that will help Mississippi avoid about $266 million in projected increases to corrections costs over the next decade.
* A $6.9 million appropriation to train more Highway Patrol troopers. The trooper school will begin Nov. 9, 2014.
* Senate Bill 2430, known as "Katie's Law", which requires DNA testing of certain felony offenders so law enforcement officials can determine if offenders are linked to other open cases.
* Additional funding for Mississippi's drug court system. Drug courts provide incarceration alternatives and treatment opportunities for low-level offenders. The courts are proven to help reduce recidivism.
* Funding to cover relocation for the State Crime Lab as it transitions to a new, state-of-the art facility. The new facility will allow the lab to process more evidence for more cases.
* Providing income tax credits to companies that transfer or relocate national or regional headquarters to Mississippi (House Bill 785).
* Shifting the burden of proof for tax challenges from the taxpayer to the Department of Revenue (House Bill 799).
* Prohibiting an organization, corporation or individual from damaging or threatening to damage property or products and protects employees from being harassed into surrendering their rights in the midst of a unionization drive. (Senate Bill 2473),
* Preventing organized picketing efforts from blocking building entrances and sidewalks and private residences during labor disputes. (Senate Bill 2653),
* Clarifying that local governments do not have the authority to force employers to use organized labor to reach peace agreements or collective bargaining agreements. (Senate Bill 2797).
* Providing Mississippi Public Schools Teacher Pay Raise (House Bill 504):
o Provides a $1,500 raise for teachers in the 2014-2015 school year;
o Provides a $1,000 raise for teachers in the 2015-2016 school year;
o Establishes a statewide school recognition program to be implemented in the 2016-2017 school year; and
o Requires the Legislature to adopt a pay plan for high-performing teachers in "C", "D" and "F" schools by the third year
* Requiring public colleges and universities to develop plans to address teen pregnancy among students (Senate Bill 2563).
* Providing $1.3 million to for all high school juniors to take the ACT test.
As part of normal administrative proceedings, The Department of Human Services will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, July 22 for House Bill 49, a measure that requires drug screenings for TANF applicants.